Thirunavaya Temple , an ancient Hindu temple, is located at Thirunavaya,12 km South of Tirur in Malappuram district of Kerala state, India. From ancient times Thirunavaya was known throughout India as a centre of excellence for Vedic teachings, with Veda Paadda Saalas (Thirunnavaya Otthanmmar Maddom) for teaching the Vedas, Sasthras, Tantric Mantras, performing of rituals and preaching under learned scholars. (Recently these were shifted to Cheru Thirunnavaya, a centre on the South bank of Bharathapuzha).
The Vaishnava sect of Hindus have 108 Thiruppathis (most holy temples) and eleven of them are now in Kerala and Thirunavaya is one among them. It was on the sandy ridges and outskirts of Bharatapuzha that the glorious magnum event MAMANKAM was conducted once in every 12 years.
This temple was constructed about 5000 years back. Though it had undergone periodical renovations, the last and major renovation with the reconstruction of Sanctum Sanctorum was done by the legendary PERUMTHACHAN under the direction of the Vettath Raja about 1300 years back. The reconstruction had the typical ' Perumthachan touch ' making the rays of the rising sun fall on the idol on every Medam First ( in Utharaayana period, ie in April) and on Kanni First,(in Dakshinayana period ie, in October).
Bharatappuzha, mentioned as 'PRATHEECHI' in Bhagavatham, which is also called Perar and Nila , is known as Dakshina Ganga ››› ( Southern Ganges), the South Indian equivalent to the Holy Ganges River in North India, emanates from Anamalai near Pollachi in Tamil Nadu State and flows 209 km West to join the Arabian Sea near Ponnani, in Malappuram District of Kerala. Bharathapuzha in Thirunavaya, flows caressing the three temples of Maha Vishnu on its North bank and Lord Brahma and Parama Siva on its South bank . Hence the Pithrukarmas performed at this 'Thrimoorthy Sangam' are considered as very sacred.
The cultural history of Kerala is intertwined with the history and geography of this river. Thunchath Ezhuthachan, considered as the father of Malayalam language, Kunchan Nambiar, one of the greatest contributors to the Malayalam language, who presented his art form 'The Ottan thullal' enriched with satirical criticism against social evils, injustice, unwanted religious practices, etc, lived on the banks of this river. This holy river was the cradle of the legendary personalities of 'Panthirukulam' (12 offsprings of the great scholar Vararuchi).
Here lived the great Ayurveda Acharyas, 'Alathiyur Nambi', Pulamanthole Moossath,Vaidya Maddom Namboodiri, all of whom were entrusted by Lord Brahma Himself for the treatment of all ailments of the people of this holy land. The renowned Sanskrit scholar and author of "Narayaneeyam", Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri, the famous Astrologer Thalakkulath Bhattathiri and their disciples, Great Azhvancheri Thamprakkal, the final word on Hindu religious rituals, tantric saasanas,vedic explanations, etc added sanctity to this river by their proximity. The cultural uniqueness, tantric sanctity, religious harmony and diversity still continue here on the banks of Bharathapuzha through generations.
Maamankam stands for ' Maagha - makam ' which denotes a period of 28 days from the Makam star that appears in the 'bright' phase of the moon (the fortnight when moon waxes) in the month of Maagha of Saka calendar. It occurs once in every twelve years. Whatever be its origin, the Kings, local Rulers and Chieftains>>> from all over Kerala assembled here to discuss at length, during these 28 days, and decide the supreme ruler (the PERUMAL) of Kerala (Cheraman Perumal). During this occasion various forms of sports events, martial arts, intellectual contests, cultural activities, rituals and folk art performances were performed on every nook and corner of the vast and wide sandy shores of Bharathapuzha.
Pilgrims from distant places, trading groups and travellers from foreign countries like Arabia, Greece and China used to visit and participate in this unique festival. The contributions made by these visitors by exchanging vivid agricultural, architectural, as well as cultural innovations of their faraway lands have enriched the glory of this grand event. In the course of time the great 'Maagha makam' gradually became 'Maamaankam' !.